Cyclohexane is an organic compound that belongs to the cyclic hydrocarbons and is of great importance for the chemical industry as a solvent and as an intermediate in synthesis processes. The substance is a natural component of petroleum, but for industrial use it is mainly obtained by hydrogenating benzene.

The compound is an important starting material for chemical syntheses. Among other things, cyclohexane is used to obtain the substances adipic acid and caprolactam, which are used in the production of nylon fibers. Cyclohexane is also used as a solvent for non-polar compounds in the processing of bitumen, resins, fats, waxes, oils, rubber, cellulose ethers, paints and varnishes.

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CAS no. 110-82-7
EINECS no. 203-806-2
Molecular formula: C6H12

Synonyms: Cyclohexanes, hexamethylene, hexahydrobenzene, hexanaphthene, naphthene

Areas of application: Solvent for non-polar compounds, starting material for syntheses in organic chemistry


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Cyclohexane is a saturated organic compound with a very regular, cyclic structure. The six carbon atoms of the compound are connected to form a ring-shaped structure, in which they are arranged alternately slightly higher and slightly lower than the plane of the ring. Each of the carbon atoms has two attached hydrogen atoms. Cyclohexane has no pronounced charge centers and is to be regarded as electrically non-polar. The liquid compound is therefore suitable as a solvent for substances that are also non-polar.

At room temperature, cyclohexane is in liquid form. However, the clear and colorless compound solidifies to a solid when cooled to below 6 °C. When heated to temperatures above the boiling point of 81 °C, it changes to the gaseous state. The volatile compound has a characteristic odor reminiscent of chloroform and petrol.

Cyclohexane is very soluble in many organic substances such as methanol, ethanol, diethyl ether, benzene, acetone and carbon tetrachloride and is itself an effective solvent for many organic compounds. However, the substance is practically insoluble in water. Due to its lower density, it will float to the top of the water upon contact. Cyclohexane is hardly electrically conductive.

Cyclohexane is chemically stable and can be stored safely when stored as directed. However, the compound can react violently with strong oxidizing agents, liquid nitrogen dioxide and oxygen.

The substance is combustible and highly flammable. The vapors of the highly volatile compound can form extremely ignitable and explosive vapor-air mixtures with the ambient air. These mixtures are heavier than the air and can spread unnoticed on the floor of the workroom. This can lead to dangerous remote ignition of open containers of cyclohexane. When processing the substance, it is therefore always necessary to ensure a sufficient safety distance from possible ignition sources such as electrostatically charged surfaces, strongly heated devices, mechanically generated sparks and open flames. Toxic and irritating gases are produced during the combustion and thermal decomposition of cyclohexane. Among other things, carbon monoxide is released.

Cyclohexane poses health hazards. The substance is irritating to skin and eyes on direct contact. Depending on the extent and duration of exposure, degreasing and inflammation of the skin as well as conjunctivitis can occur. Soaked parts of the body should be cleaned with soap and water and should be examined by a doctor if the symptoms persist. If the eyes come into contact with the compound, they should be rinsed thoroughly under running water and receive immediate ophthalmological treatment.

Inhalation of vapors and aerosols of the substance causes painful irritation of the respiratory tract and they absorb rapidly. Ingestion of liquid cyclohexane can also cause rapid uptake of the compound into the metabolism. In addition, gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur. The absorption of large amounts of cyclohexane can cause severe central nervous system disorders such as nausea, tiredness, drowsiness, balance problems, dizziness, hyperventilation, apathy, convulsions, narcosis, collapse, respiratory paralysis and cardiac arrest. If poisoning is suspected, seek medical help immediately and arrange for medical observation of any symptoms that may be delayed.

Cyclohexane is toxic to aquatic organisms and can cause long-term ecosystem damage. The compound has therefore been rated as highly hazardous to water and must not be released into the environment. Even the escape of small quantities of the substance into the soil, water bodies or wastewater must be reported to the competent authorities. As a flammable hazardous substance, cyclohexane is subject to special transport regulations.

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